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I'm an American Who Wants to Teach English in France - What Are My Options?
Written by: Chelsea Hendrickx
Last Updated: January 12, 2021
Despite what you may have heard, it is possible for an American to teach English in France legally. We will explore the four most common ways to do this via TAPIF (French government program for teaching English in public schools), a Student Visa, Dual Citizenship & Summer Camps.
The most straightforward way for an American to get a job teaching in France is through TAPIF, the Teaching Assistant Program in France. This program recruits over 1,000 young Americans (the cutoff age is 35) per year to work as English teachers across France for seven month contract periods. The catch is that your French skills need to be pretty decent: applicants must have an intermediate proficiency in French, and be able to prove that via university records or an essay.
One of the major benefits of the TAPIF program is that it provides U.S. citizens with a viable and legal way to teach English in France on a long-stay visa, which is extremely difficult to come by when approaching private language schools individually. The vast majority of language schools are unable to help TEFL teachers obtain working visas (and working under the table is not a realistic option in France), so teaching in public schools via TAPIF is typically the best option.
See this article for more details: What is the TAPIF Program for Teaching English in France?
If you don’t qualify for TAPIF either due to age or language ability, another way into France would be to enroll in a course (usually French language courses) which gives you the ability to apply for a Student Visa. An American is legally eligible to work 20 hours a week while on a student visa in France, and many foreign English teachers will also tutor students privately to earn additional income. To obtain a student visa, the school must be a government-recognized program at an approved language school or university (not every course you can take in France has the authority to issue visas to students). See this article for more details: How to apply for a Student Visa to legally teach English in France.
Dual citizenship with France or another EU country is the last viable option into France. If you are able to obtain citizenship either through family members or via a spouse, having legal working rights in one EU country usually means you are able to obtain work in another without as much hassle.
There are a number of summer camps (some actually run throughout the year) across France that specialize in English language immersion programs for French children. These camps, such offer 1-2 month opportunities to teach English in for school aged children. These opportunities are great for those looking for shorter stints overseas as well as those who enjoy working outdoors with children.
Chelsea grew up in South Florida and attended the University of Florida. Following graduation, she hopped on a plane to Japan and participated in the JET program for two years. Chelsea has worked as an Admissions Advisor at International TEFL Academy for more than 3 years and has assisted hundreds of ITA students to teach English in Japan and around the world.
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